Mediation

GRACE MORIN’S PHILOSOPHY

As an experienced lawyer and mediator Grace Morin is driven by the belief that, although some cases must be tried, most can be settled through careful, thoughtful mediation. This often results in a resolution to family legal issues that everyone involved can accept with far less damage to families than the traditional litigation approach.

WHAT IS MEDIATION?

Mediation is a voluntary method of settling disputes where people try to work out or settle their disputes with the help of a trained impartial person, called a mediator. The parties meet with the mediator in private sessions. Sometimes the parties meet individually with the mediator. In mediation, the decision making authority rests with the parties themselves. Recognizing variations in styles and cultural differences, the role of the mediator involves assisting the parities in defining and clarifying issues, reducing obstacles to communication, exploring possible solutions, and reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement. Mediation presents the opportunity to peacefully express conflict and to hear each other out even when an agreement is not reached. Mediation is often referred to as No-Fault Resolution because the goal is to reach a solution fairly and quickly, not to decide who is right or wrong in a costly courtroom battle.

WHAT IS THE MEDIATION PROCESS?

Mediation is begun by one (or both) parties contacting the office. Once the parties have agreed to mediate, a time and place are arranged. Next, the session begins under the guidance and experience of the specially trained and fully certified impartial mediator. Legal counsel and other personal advisors may be present if that is the wish of the parties.

WHAT IS A MEDIATOR?

A mediator is a skilled neutral leader of the mediation conference. The mediator helps the parties communicate and explore options with the goal of reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. The mediator is not a therapist or marriage counselor. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties. The mediator does not determine who is right or who is wrong. The mediator leads the parties in problem solving.

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WHAT KINDS OF LEGAL ISSUES CAN BE MEDIATED?

Mediation is useful in a very broad range of circumstances; it can help resolve almost any civil (non-criminal) dispute that would otherwise go to court or arbitration.

WHY MEDIATE?

Mediation works for many reasons. Mostly mediation works because the parties want to settle their differences instead of having a Judge do it for them. No one knows their problems better than the parties involved. Therefore, they are the best persons to make the decisions. In family cases, divorce can be difficult on everyone involved; parents, children, and extended families. Family mediation can be a healing process that enhances communication and cooperation among family members as they fulfill their individual and joint responsibilities in new and creative ways.

WILL I NEED MY OWN LAWYER ALSO?

Although mediation can provide a successful, risk-free resolution to almost any dispute, it is not a substitute for legal advice. Frequently you will still need a lawyer to give you legal advice. The mediator or your respective lawyers may also be required to draft papers to put your mutual resolutions into a written form for all parties to sign.

HOW LONG DOES MEDIATION TAKE?

Mediation requires enough time for the two parties to be able to explain, in an uninterrupted fashion, their own perceptions of the current disputed issues and their ideas about how to keep the problem solved in the future. The amount of time necessary to accomplish this varies, depending especially on what issue is being mediated. For example, in divorce matters where the parties have already decided to divorce but have been unable to settle their financial issues and problems involving the children, mediation generally requires between 3 and 10 sessions, normally held every week or every other week. If the parties cooperate in providing discovery and are able to schedule appointments weekly, the entire process can be completed in less than 2 months.

AN ALTERNATIVE TO LITIGATION

Mediation may be an appropriate alternative to litigation when both parties seek to resolve their issues by agreement and want to avoid a trial or other adversarial court proceedings. Mediation may be inappropriate if there has been domestic violence in the family, if one party feels controlled by or fearful of the other party or if either party is not willing to provide full and honest disclosure of their income, assets and debts.

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WHAT IF THE PARTIES CAN NOT AGREE ON ALL THE ISSUES?

Any issues which are not resolved through mediation can be decided by the court or negotiated by the lawyers.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MEDIATION?

The primary benefit of mediation is a fair resolution of the issues, but mediation is also:

Confidential - There is no public record; mediation sessions are held in private and on a "Without prejudice" basis.
Cost effective - Mediation can reduce legal costs and utilize less staff time. Generally, mediation can cost far less than litigation.
Flexible - The parties set their own schedule. Mediation permits parties to fashion remedies designed to fit the unique needs, values and circumstances of the parties, permitting "win/win" solutions. Mediation allows the parties to retain control of the situation and promotes communication and cooperation. The parties themselves decide the outcome (a win-win process).
Gentle - With the guidance of a professional in dispute resolution, modeling active listening skills, parties are encouraged to communicate in more effective ways. This diffuses tensions and misunderstanding that impede negotiations; and, in permitting free, clearer expression, helps parties find satisfaction in being heard. Communications skills and insights learned through the mediation process last well beyond the resolution of a single dispute.
Quick - Mediation sessions can be scheduled early in the dispute and at times acceptable to the parties thereby increasing the likelihood of a prompt settlement. It avoids the delays and frequent non-productive court appearances associated with our over burdened court systems.
Risk Free - Anyone can leave at any time.
Constructive – The court process can do serious damage to families. Children are often the biggest losers. By keeping costs down and by helping to reach solutions created by the mutual consent of the parties, the mediation process goes a long way to help create a constructive legal, financial and personal framework for the new family reality.
HOW MUCH DOES MEDIATION COST?

Fees for mediation are billed at an hourly rate. The parties are encouraged to share the cost. The total costs of a mediated divorce are usually less than those in the adversarial process.

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